LAHORE: A total lunar eclipse tonight, the second of two lunar eclipses in 2018. A total lunar eclipse occurs when moon passes directly behind the earth and falls into its shadow. The most extravagant part about a total lunar eclipse is that when the moon is fully in Earth’s shadow it turns red, earning the nickname of “Blood moon”.
Blood Moon of tonight will be the longest lunar eclipse of the 21st century. On January 31 this year the world witnessed a spectacular Super Blue Blood Moon eclipse. Fortunately, every lunar eclipse is observable anywhere on Earth where the Moon is above the horizon, given cooperative weather.
“One doesn’t need to wear protective glasses to observe blood moon as with the case of solar eclipse because moon never gets bright enough to harm one’s eyes. Blood moon sighting is a extremely unique event and can also be seen through telescope, binoculars or even with naked eye. I have seen so many moon eclipses with my own eyes in my life. Solar eclipse, however, should not be seen with a naked eye as it can be harmful,” Umair Asim, who is President Lahore Astronomical Society said while talking to The Nation.
“Blood moon will start at 10 pm and end at 4 am. It would be at its peak at 1:45, which is also the best time to see it. We had planned a big event for the blood moon sighting but later cancelled it due to unpredictability of monsoon season.” Umair said.
“At first there is darkness over the moon and later it will start turning red. During total lunar eclipses, the moon turns a deep red color when it enters the depths of Earth's shadow. The colour change happens because Earth's atmosphere acts as both a lens and a scattering medium for the sun's light,” Umair explained.
Blood moon occurs once every six months with the next one expected on 21st January 2019.
The moon is steeped in mythology and legend, with zodiac influences and the Blood Moon is no different. It has fascinated cultures across the globe. Many of which portray the event as an omen, which is not shocking since any irregularity in the rhythm of sun and moon have an impact on our lives. With the Blood Moon taking place here are some myths surrounding the lunar phenomenon.
In Mesopotamia, blood moon was considered a direct assault on king. With their strong astronomy skills they would be able to predict an eclipse and in accordance with that they put a proxy king in place of real king for its duration, while the real king would go into hiding and wait for the eclipse to pass. The proxy king would then disappear, and the old king be reinstated.
However, in Hindu folktales, blood moon was the result of the demon Rahu drinking elixir of immorality. Twin deities the sun and moon beheaded Rahu, but having consumed the elixir, Rahu’s head remains immortal. In pursuing revenge, Rahu’s head chases the sun and moon to consume them. If he succeeds in catching them then there is an eclipse – The red color of moon is because of Rahu swallowing moon, which reappears out of his severed neck.
Therefore, Hindus considered blood moon as an evil omen. They perform cleansing ritual and pregnant women are not supposed to eat or do household work at the of lunar eclipse.
Whereas, according to myths of the native Americans lunar eclipse occurred when the moon was wounded or ill. After the eclipse, the moon would then need healing, either by the moon’s wives or by tribesmen. They would sing and chant healing songs towards the darkened moon.
In Islam, eclipse is interpreted without any superstitions. During the lunar eclipse Muslims ask forgiveness from God and reaffirms His Greatness.